Christians have a wide variety of opinions concerning modesty. Many say that if you believe you should dress a different way than that is fine for you--just don't impose your beliefs on us--because the bible doesn't explicitly define modesty. That seems to be a postmodern way of thinking.

Being a Christian means trying to be more like Christ and incidentally less like the world. Many "Christians" seem more interested in being a close as they can to the world in how they dress. Surely that stance denies the truth that we are to follow Christ as best we can and is therefore "postmodern": If we aren't supposed to follow Christ as best we can, does truth even exist?

  • Which Christians are you talking about? Many Christians have very strict guidelines for "modesty." – Flimzy Mar 17 '12 at 6:40
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    @Flimsy not sure that is supported... While some Christians are modest, some are really really not (they might dress "up" for service, but that isn't the definition of modesty, and at some levels could even be described as a different form of immodesty). In looking at various Western countries, I see no significant difference in how Christians dress vs the rest of the population (who also are capable of modesty, remember). The denominations with notably modest dress codes are in the minority. – Marc Gravell Mar 17 '12 at 8:48
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    @MarcGravell: I think you're trying to disagree with me, but I'm not sure... moreover, I'm not sure what's to disagree with. :) Amish don't even wear buttons, because it's a sign of immodesty and pride. Many Christian sects require their women to wear long hair or wear long dresses. These are all strict Christian guidelines for modesty. Minority or not, these groups are clearly Christian--and in a discussion on Christian modesty, may well be the main point of discussion. So I think clarifying which group one is asking about is worth while. – Flimzy Mar 17 '12 at 20:04
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    Also consider modesty does not just include dress. I grew up attending several baptist churches, many discouraged or outright rejected dancing because they considered it immodest. – aceinthehole Mar 18 '12 at 1:08
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    Please define the word postmodern. In architecture, it's a clearly defined term. In any other context, it's a bit of a mess. – TRiG Mar 19 '12 at 0:38

With all due respect, to compile the entire Christian community into a composite entity and then direct the question at that entity is at best unfair. To be a Christian certainly involves always being cognizant of the image that one is projecting to others in their daily life, and to that end a Postmodern stance on one's level of modesty is contrary to the teachings of Christ. Do some Christians reflect a Postmodern preference of modesty? Of course. Do some Christians consciously value humility instead? Most definitely. It's no different for any other religion. This really comes down to a case-by-case basis and can't be applied to the Christian collective.


The view you essentially describe is indeed held by some Christians, but this is not postmodernism.

Postmodernism implies a denial of absolute truth, and I assume that your question arises because if many Christians deny an absolute definition of modesty, this seems to imply, to some degree, a denial of absolute truth.

But that is not the case. Denying an absolute modesty dress code does not imply the denial of an absolute principle of modesty. In other words, the Christians you describe still hold themselves to an absolute truth - but that truth is a principle of modesty, and not a legalistic dress code. The Bible does cover the principle of modesty, though what that looks like in practice will vary greatly from culture to culture, and from conscience to conscience[1].

This principle of modesty[2] is described much better by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity (emphasis added):

The Christian rule of chastity must not be confused with the social rule of 'modesty' (in one sense of that word); i.e. propriety, or decency. The social rule of propriety lays down how much of the human body should be displayed and what subjects can be referred to, and in what words, according to the customs of a given social circle. Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all times, the rule of propriety changes. A girl in the Pacific islands wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady completely covered in clothes might both be equally 'modest', proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own societies: and both, for all we could tell by their dress, might be equally chaste (or equally unchaste).

[1] See Romans 14

[2] Note that C.S. Lewis distinguishes between "modesty" and "chastity", and uses the word "modesty" only to describe social propriety. In my answer, I have used the phrase "principle of modesty" in the same way he uses the word "chastity"


I understand where you are coming from. It seems that the level of modesty seen as acceptable by some Christians seems to have declined. I am not sure if post-modernity is really the reason for this change, though.

It seems more like it may be an issue of sanctification, or perhaps the result of teaching that puts little emphasis on holiness and coming out from the world.

I think to call it postmodern thinking takes away from the possibility that it could indeed be an issue that the Church (Body of Christ) is facing at this time in history.

Here are a few excerpts from Scripture that I find to be relevant to the situation at hand:

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NIV)
1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Follow your Biblical convictions.

I hope that this answers your question somewhat.

  • Chris

Christians would only be postmodern in the view of modesty if there were an absolute standard set forth in the Scriptures. Since there is no such standard, then there is no absolute truth to deny. (As another answer mention, postmodernism is the denial of absolute truth.)

There is an absolute truth defined in Scripture regarding adultery, so if Christians denied that adultery (or lying, blasphemy, stealing, lust, etc.) were wrong, then that would be postmodern.

Modesty is certainly based on culture in some ways. in Alaska, it is probably possible to wear much more clothing than it is in Jamaica.

  • Being a Christian means trying to be more like Christ and incidentally less like the world. Many "Christians" seem more interested in being a close as they can to the world in how they dress. – Dale May 3 '12 at 20:10

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